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Do you earn the average wage in Douglas County?

Greg Wagner and Tom McSperron with West Central Initiatives (WCI), based in Fergus Falls, requested Douglas County contribute $8,000 to its endowment fund in 2014. Douglas County has given a total of $192,023 in past years. Funds contributed to the endowment are matched by the McKnight Foundation.

"We've seen significant continued growth in the county," Wagner said.

WCI promotes job creation and retention, community development, technology and programs for young children in nine Minnesota counties, including Douglas, Clay, Becker, Wilkin, Otter Tail, Traverse, Grant, Stevens and Pope.

Wagner said there are four major industries that make up 77 percent of jobs in Douglas County: trade, transportation and utilities, education and health services, manufacturing and leisure and hospitality. Regionally, the average weekly wage is $655, up from $610 in 2011. In Douglas County, the weekly average is $687, also increased from 2011, which was $655. Wagner said the county is reaching pre-recession unemployment numbers.

The top paying industries in the region and in Douglas County are manufacturing, construction, financial activities and public administration.

"Manufacturing jobs alone make up 17 percent of the workforce in the county," Wagner said.

Loans are available through WCI for small enterprises, business and industry and child care. WCI has aided Douglas County with 368 grants totaling $2.5 million and 114 loans in the amount of $6.5 million over the past 26 years.

In 2012, Design Tree Engineering, Jack's Family Recycling Center and West Central Tool and Grinding in Alexandria and Odyssey Steel and Trim in Brandon received WCI loans.

Commissioners accepted WCI's annual report and will consider contributing funds during upcoming budget meetings.

PUBLIC HEARING/PUBLIC WORKS

A public hearing was held during the July 23 Douglas County board of commissioners meeting to hear any objections to Glen Olson's petition for outlet into Douglas County Ditch 13 in northwestern Leaf Valley Township.

Drainage and Ag Inspector Tom Anderson and Public Works Director/County Engineer Dave Robley informed commissioners that no objections were received by the Public Works department after notifying affected landowners. Commissioners approved the petition, along with setting the outlet fee at $180.

Out of the ditch and onto the road, Minnerath Construction was awarded a public works contract for grading and aggregate base reconstruction on County State Aid Highway 1 in Evansville. Minnerath's low bid of $1,245,326 was selected over Central Specialties $1,438,138 and Duininck's $1,844,646 proposals. All amounts exceeded the engineer's estimate of $1,244,066.

Robley reported that an abstract for proposals was received for an archaeological survey to be conducted at Kensington Runestone Park. Bolton and Menk Incorporated proposed $4,324. Firms were ranked on project manager experience, project team experience, scope and methodology and cost of proposal. Bids ranged from $4,324 to $19,276.

The Osakis Chamber is hosting a twilight 5K race on August 9, starting at 7 p.m., with a street dance following. Commissioners approved the chamber's request to close Main Street East in Osakis between Central Avenue and 1st Avenue East from 7 p.m. until midnight.

DeyCrystal Dey Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota's Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter at @CrystalDey_Echo.

Crystal Dey

Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota’s Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter @Crystal_Dey.

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